GLENS FALLS -- After an exhilarating first two games of the weekend, the Adirondack Phantoms had a chance Sunday to do something even grander: move into a playoff position.
The same opportunity was on the table for their opponents from the Western Conference, the Rochester Americans.
It made for compelling, desperate hockey for the 2,386 who came to the Civic Center on Easter Sunday. But it didn’t add up to a win for the home team.
Rochester scored late in the third period to break a tie and added an empty-netter to beat Adirondack, 4-2.
The Phantoms remain one point behind Manchester and Portland for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Adirondack and Portland each have three games remaining. Manchester has four.
“We’re still in it, but you need help. You need certain teams to fall certain ways,” Phantoms coach Joe Paterson said. “We need to get certain wins from other teams.”
The Phantoms did everything they could to take matters into their own hands in the third. They outshot the Americans 16-5 in the period and 48-28 for the game.
Rochester only had one shot in the third until defenseman Alex Biega caught the Phantoms on a change and found a seam up the center of the ice and beat Michael Leighton one-on-one for the go-ahead goal with 4:39 remaining.
“Our determination was good. The want, the will to win was very good in this team and they kept pushing. It was just an unfortunate thing there at the end,” Paterson said. “I don’t think we did a very good job in the middle of the ice there on their defenseman.”
Still, the Phantoms had a chance to tie it and at least come away with a point.
Rochester’s Corey Tropp took a roughing penalty with 3:07 remaining. The Phantoms flooded the zone and had glorious chances, but couldn’t get anything past Rochester goalie David Leggio.
“They probably had five or six shots that didn’t get to the net. Just absolute bombs that guys were laying out in front of and sacrificing their bodies,” Leggio said. “It seemed like they had the puck in our zone for three minutes. It was just like shot, block. Shot, block. So many blocks, so many big plays by our guys.”
Leggio, who had 46 saves, won the duel with Leighton in a meeting of two of the league’s top workhorses.
Leighton, who has started 17 of 20 games since Feb. 19, came into the game first in total saves in the AHL this season and second in minutes played; Leggio was second in total saves and third in minutes.
“When you play against a quality goaltender like he is you just know that you can’t give up a soft one or anything because he’s not going to,” Leggio said.
The stage was set for the third after a seesaw second period.
Twice, Rochester took a one-goal lead. Both times the Phantoms battled back and found an answer.
Tyler Brown and Tye McGinn each scored in the period. McGinn’s net-front effort tied it the game at two with 38 seconds left.
After going 5 for 13 on the power play in two wins against Albany this weekend, the Phantoms were 0 for 6 on Sunday.
They had three chances in the scoreless first period, including 1:10 of a two-man advantage.
“If you get a goal there, might make a difference in the game. But they were doing a good job. They were clogging, they don’t move a lot,” Paterson said. “We had to change our angles and try to create some one-touches and move it a little quicker to create some things.”
Rochester played with a loaded lineup after getting four players back from the parent Buffalo Sabres, who missed the NHL playoffs. Forwards Tropp, Marcus Foligno, and defensemen T.J. Brennan and Brayden McNabb returned this weekend for the Americans.
Loose pucks: The Flyers returned forward Harry Zolnierczyk to the Phantoms on Sunday, but he was an injured scratch. Zolnierczyk was banged up in a fight with Pittsburgh’s Joe Vitale on Saturday. ... Defenseman Oliver Lauridsen also missed the game with injury.
Rochester (33-27-9-4)0 2 2 — 4
Adirondack (36-33-2-2)0 2 0 — 2
First period — None. Penalties — Finley, Rch (cross-checking), 8:53; Adam, Rch (slashing), 14:35; Foligno, Rch (slashing), 15:25.
Second period — 1, Rochester, Varone 11 (Rankin, Stuart), 1:45; 2, Adirondack, Brown 8 (Rowe, Akeson), 8:32; 3, Rochester, Rankin 14 (Biega, Finley), 13:16; 4, Adirondack, McGinn 11 (Harper, Bartulis), 19:22. Penalties — Kessel, Adk (holding), 10:07.
Third period — 5, Rochester, Biega 5 15:21; 6, Rochester, Szczechura 20 (Tropp), 19:15. Penalties — Gongalsky, Rch (holding), 6:48; Roe, Adk (holding), 6:48; Bordson, Adk (slashing), 7:48; Voakes, Rch (tripping), 11:08; Tropp, Rch (roughing), 16:53; Rankin, Rch (interference), 19:41.
Shots on goal — Rochester 10-13-5—28; Adirondack 16-16-16—48.
Power plays — Rochester 0-2; Adirondack 0-6.
Goalies — Rochester, Leggio 25-23-2 (48 shots-46 saves); Adirondack, Leighton 27-24-1 (28-24).
Referees — J.Koharski, Burchell.
A — 2,386